I heard someone say 'I don't network' the other day. They've misused the word there - it's impossible not to network. Your network is the number of connections you have, both socially and in business and importantly, the quality of those connections. By quality, I don't mean how good a human they are, I mean the level of your relationship with them, which I shall demonstrate below.
I don't wish to nitpick at the person who said 'I don't network', he clearly just meant he didn't attend networking events. That's fine, as a Sales Manager, I can understand why people don't pro-actively look to build their network(s). Though they usually blame 'time' or lack thereof, it's also because it's difficult to quantify. As business people we like things we can measure. We feel in more control if we can measure something, therefore if we find something difficult to measure, we feel less control and tend to shy away from it.
Building your network (and I don't just mean specifically attending networking events) is a fairly obvious way to increase your business. Hopefully the below table will help you think about networking in less abstract terms and think more practically about how you build your network.
Take each person you know and score them as follows based on their ability to refer/recommend you and your company:
10. Referral Partner - Frequent
9. Referral Partner - Occasional
8. Referral Partner - Rare
7. Customer (or Referral Partner - once)
6. Know, Like, Trust
5. Know, Like
3. Met twice
2. Met once
1. Heard of
0. Don't know
You've heard the phrase 'the more people you know, the better you'll do'. This is true but 'know' is just level 4. The better you know people, by far better you shall do. (I'm still working on that sentence, sounds a bit Yoda-ish at present). By 'know better' I mean, building trust, educating people about your product/service, incentivising people (not just commission, think mutual referrals etc), demonstrating your expertise, etc etc. You can push more people further up this table and generate far more referral business for yourself!
PS. If you haven't already, check out your local BNI (Business Networking International) chapter. By far the most productive networking structure in the world.